Score for the Milkmaid

Aug
22

After posting about my milking struggles, I was excited to get a lot of advice and even some personal photographs (thank you, Gizmo!) on the subject of constructing a homemade goat hobble and other tips. We set to work implementing the ideas immediately. First, we moved the milkstand so it was up against the fence.

I told Clover, “This is going to be fun!!”

She scampered right up and said, “Oh boy! Does it involve cookies?”

She stuck her head right through the milkstand halter in search of goodies.

And I locked her in. I had gathered some rocks to scatter in the milkstand tray to hopefully slow down her food consumption. (I’m not sure it slowed her down much. Maybe the rocks aren’t big enough?) She shoved them aside and munched in her usual 7 am exuberance for food.

Then….she noted a disturbance in the force.

Yes, that would be the homemade goat hobble. Made of large, soft rope so as not to be harsh against her leg, it’s tied to the fence and then tied to her leg. Her leg was held up high enough to set her even more off balance, hopefully, if she were to try to cause trouble.

But she’s pretty hungry at 7 am, so she went back to her food. And I set to milking. It went pretty well for a minutes.

Then, the initial scream off her dawn appetite, she rallied for the fight.

Jerking her head about in the milkstand halter.

Calling her goat network, demanding a protest march and media notification.

Not to mention full makeup and a personal stylist.

I am here to report that a goat on three legs can still kick. I had to have my helper hold her other back leg while I milked and sometimes I had to yank the pail away and wait for her to settle down. She went through periods where she’d struggle fiercely, then she’d calm. Then she’d struggle again. I also, at times, held the other (untied) back leg myself with one hand, milking with the other. But this is hard–holding her leg with one hand and milking with the other. I can’t do it nonstop and I have to be able to milk by myself.

It was a battle, and a lesson learned, and, for once, for the first time, a full jam jar! The goat hobble helped quite a bit, but it wasn’t enough. She still kicks. Will she ever stop kicking? Is this just an adjustment period? (I’ve been milking her for nearly two weeks and she hasn’t calmed a teeny bit….) Did we tie her leg too high? Was she just uncomfortable? (She kicked before her leg was tied….)

The next morning, we came in with reinforcements. We tied the first leg up, but not quite so high, and we tied the other back leg down. It reduced kicking to have both legs tied, though it didn’t eliminate it entirely. Yes, with both back legs tied, she can still kick!

Clover: “I will defeat you yet.”

Me: “I will defeat you yet!”

And, for awhile, she ate her food and was calm. Then she rallied and it was a struggle. Much pulling the pail away, waiting for her to settle, putting the pail back, milking, then more struggling. And, yeah, a little crying.

Clover gained a partial win, finally, in wrestling around so much she got her leg down, though it remained tied.

I was tired, and the pail was fuller than it had ever been. I called a truce, considering it truly a win. I released Clover from the stand and let the babies out. They took their share immediately.

And me? Here’s why it was a win, whether Clover knows it or not.

Left to right: the day before the goat hobble, the first day of the goat hobble, the second day of the goat hobble.

I had enough milk that, for the first time, it was too much for a jam jar!!!!! I had to get out a pint jar!!!

Next goal–a full pint jar!!!

P.S. Okay, help. You see our efforts at a goat hobble. She’s still struggling and making milking difficult. More suggestions are so welcome!!

Comments

  1. Kathryn says:

    I have no ideas whatsoever. I am wondering if perhaps Sparticus might be influencing Clover. She seems to have that look about her in a couple of the pictures. When Coco grows a little older, will she be able to calm Clover during milking? Will that be part of her job?

    I do think that it is great that you are getting more milk! Soon, those pint jars are just going to be running over.

  2. Meghan Rosenstengel says:

    You go, girl! Stick with it and she should settle down.

    If you have a helper, you might try having them cover or remove the food when she fusses and only uncover/return it when she settles. Bad behavior = no yummy treats.

    And yes, you need more or bigger rocks.

  3. Ruth says:

    OK, so I know nothing about goats, but a little about animal training (mostly dogs) and I know that goats are intelligent and can be trained. Training her not to kick, like potty-training a toddler, would be a very long game, but it sounds like you’re at the end of your tether (as well as hers). It’s not a course I imagine many commercial farmers would choose!

    However, you’re not a large-scale farmer, and I know you love your goats like pets and might not want to take the harsher actions you might if you had lots of them. So basically she has to learn that not letting you milk her is more distressing than not doing so.

    Maybe someone who knows about goat psychology can adjust my suggestions with more realistic goals!

    First: food punishment. Take the food away when she kicks, give it back when she stops.

    Next: social punishment. Goats are social, like dogs and people, right? Does she like your attention and find it rewarding when you pet her? (I’m not sure, but from what you’ve said about petting, it seems that way.) If so, when she kicks, take the food and walk away. It’s the same principal you use when your toddler throws a tantrum in the supermarket: “Fine, I’ll go without you”.

    Stay away until she gets distressed. Look like you’re doing something interesting without her – play with the baby goats or something. That will be hard. Then try again.

    Finally: reward. When she is behaving – being placid and not kicking, get someone to make a fuss of her and give her cookies. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THEY STOP THE INSTANT SHE KICKS. Learning the connection between the reward and the behaviour might be the hard part.

    I’ll say this again for luck: this is general training stuff that you’d use to teach any mammal to behave how you want it to. I have no knowledge of goats whatsoever, and it might not work with them at all!

  4. jane says:

    what about putting some distraction in front of her like a picture of her babies, a movie of them or something to distract her as you are milking ? I have no clue but judging by the amount of milk – something is getting better. hang in there – it is coming – maybe call nanny 911!!! Get her in line and show her who is boss?

  5. flutterby says:

    Just wondering… I have seen pictures where the goat milker milks from the rear instead of the side. Not a desirable position as it can lead to droppings in the milk and goodness knows what else. But I have seen this often enough to wonder if all goats were milked from the rear. Maybe that reduces kicking but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

  6. Tresha says:

    ok girl….you are a major softy..those rocks….WAY TO SMALL! she needs to struggle a bit to get around them to find the food…also, don’t dump her feed in there until she is all tied up and you practically have one hand on ready to start! it appears she is eating while you are still in preparation mode…hence she is way ahead of you already!

    all that a side, congrats on the volume of milk you have!!! GREAT SUCCESS!!!

    Tresh in Oklahoma

  7. Pam says:

    Yea, more milk! Love the pictures too! :)

  8. Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife says:

    You’re certainly making progress. You need to advertise in the local newspaper for a “Goat Whisperer”. Seriously, you had the chicken whisperer at your home the other day, there has to be a goat whisperer in the area.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  9. Blaze says:

    No idea what else you can try but it looks like you had some good sucess with your milking already congrads!!
    :snoopy:

  10. Donna Mc says:

    First of all, I know nothing about goats…so I’m just being silly here…

    I suggest Benedryl!! Make her sleepy..but then your milk might become instant sleeping pills. *G* And the baby goats wouldn’t scamper nearly as much if they are gorped up.

    Or try music…they say it soothes the beast. I suggest John Denver music. *G*

    Oh I know – remember that old Andy Griffith show where the drunk goat ate the dynomite… THATS what you need – booze her up AND then sing to her. I think Deputy Fife’s song was “Juanita”…you could sub Clover’s name in there.

    I’m enjoying your adventures. Keep up the good work & give Coco a hug from me.

  11. Nonnie says:

    Suzanne,
    Look again at that site you told us about — the goat hobble. Look where the hobble is placed on the goat’s back legs. This is taken directly from the site: A goat cannot kick if you squeeze tight on the upper rear leg. When you squeeze the ligament on the back of their leg it makes it almost impossible to lift their leg.
    I think you tied her legs below the “elbow”, not above.
    Check it out!
    Nonnie

  12. hawkswench says:

    Again I have no knowledge of goats, but the last pic(before honey and nutmeg) where clover’s legs are a little behind her compare to her normal stance. What about tie her to the end of the milk stand, so she has to stretch a little to get to her food? It wouldn’t be as uncomfortable as having her leg in the air and it seems as if her udder would be more open like it is in that pic. As slowing down her eating, the huge deer carrots would be my only thought.

  13. hawkswench says:

    Oh I meant to add, for Coco to get that dirty you know she had a grand old time doing whatever she was doing. You can tell by that smile on her face.

  14. Crystal B. says:

    That’s great Suzanne. :smile: Have a good weekend.

  15. Beckynsc says:

    Well, if all else fails. Try a twitch. It’s placed on their nose, if they move, it hurts. Not sure if it will work on a goat. Or if they even make them for goats. It might be worth checking out.

  16. katie m. says:

    Hi Suzanne!
    I am a reader from Alabama and I am living vicariously through your blog! I keep telling dear husband that I really want to have a farm with goats and chickens, but right now it is a little unattainable for us. Keep posting and I will keep enjoying!
    Thanks
    Katie M. :wave:

  17. Suzette says:

    Hmmmm…nothing productive to offer here, but I keep thinking how the Goat Lady practically threw Clover at you. Perhaps she knew something you didn’t at the time. :)

  18. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Oh, no, I was lucky they let me have the mama with the babies. I was in love with Clover already for her coloring. They haven’t milked any of their goats yet at the goat farm–this was their first year to have babies and this was Clover’s first time out as a mother, so she hasn’t been milked before. Nobody could have known what a kicky milker she is! But, I think it’s common that they are kicky the first time out. She’s just wearing me out, LOL.

    This morning–this is the third day we’ve used the goat hobble. She worked pretty well loose of the hobble and kicked the bucket over and spilled quite a bit, but I did get out with a full jam jar. I would have most of a pint jar if she hadn’t kicked the bucket.

    I definitely think we need to refine how we’re tying her because it isn’t working……

  19. Sarah S. says:

    :clap: Good job! She is a kicker isn’t she? Keep trying you will get more milk soon!

  20. Gizmo says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! You’re doing great. This was a HUGE win for you!

    Tresha got it…not enough (or bigger) rocks. You want her to be licking “around” the rocks to find her feed.

    Keep adjusting the rope (leg height) as you need to. Try above the knee as Nonnie suggested. Yes, she will stop kicking.

  21. Michelle Willingham says:

    Why do I relate to Clover? Man, must be that weaning thing… :yes:

  22. Remudamom says:

    You’re doing great, it’ll happen. How about a boulder in the feed trough so she really has to work? Raise up the hobbles.

    I’ve had to milk a horse before in extreme circs, when a new mother wouldn’t nurse a foal. Depending on the mare, we’d give a bit of Ace in the muscle then milk.

    I don’t think you need to go that far though, I think you’re gonna get there soon.

  23. Lisa L. says:

    I think any milk is a success at this point! Look at all that milk. Wow! You are doing a great job.

  24. Jill S. says:

    I can’t even imagine. At least I don’t have to milk my animals (bears, raccoons, etc.) But I’m so fascinated by all your farm involves!

  25. Carolyn A. says:

    Your perseverance is astounding! I love watching and reading how you’re figuring it all out. You are going to be one fine goat milker. xxoo

  26. goatgirl says:

    I used a soft belt like what is on a robe and tied the two legs together. First tying one leg and then wrapping the belt around the other and tied them together. Works on the same principle as the hobbles.
    Don’t worry….it can only get better. Remember to start working with the doeling.

  27. Fowlvisions says:

    Your persistance is definitely paying off. One day you will have a whole bucket full!

  28. Annie says:

    I don’t know nothin bout milkin no goats. Just remember to breathe. When you want to cry, (and I assume you meant that it was you crying, not Clover) pull away and breathe.

    Congratulations on graduating to the pint jar!

  29. Shari C says:

    I am sorry, but I am no help on this subject. I think you are doing great however, and persistence will be the main thing. Don’t let her get the best of you.

  30. Jodie says:

    :hungry: City girl here… no idea! But I think you’re starting to win. Maybe let your Dad have another try.

  31. Kate says:

    Just a thought, but when you get this all down and have tons of cheese, you could call your company “Kicking Goat Cheese”.

    Love the blog.

    Kate

  32. Sooz in nv says:

    :cattail: Hi
    Maybe you could carry the distraction technique (feeding) one step further; have someone at her head give her a cooky when she starts to struggle.
    Don’t know much about goats, but it works when taking scared dogs through the car wash!
    Sooz in NV

  33. Jen (aaron-n-jen.com) says:

    I really want goats but we don’t have the land yet. I’m learning from all of this!

  34. Karen Moorhead says:

    You are really having success, although it might not feel like it at times. Just keep at it. I don’t have goats but horses get better and better all the time at the stuff we ask them; but they do like to please.

    I will forever have more appreciation for goat cheese after your blog; so thanks for opening my eyes to the hard work!

  35. Katharina says:

    This must be why goats represent the devil. :rotfl:

    Coco, on the other hand, is beautiful no matter what. :heart:

  36. Suzanne McMinn says:

    You can keep the milk in the fridge for up to a week, but every few days I put together what I have collected and go ahead and freeze it. The recipe (and stuff) I have for the first cheese I’m going to make calls for a gallon of milk, so I’ll wait till I have a gallon. I’ve never made cheese before, so I don’t think I should experiment with cutting down the recipe to use less milk on my first time making cheese.

  37. Donna says:

    THAT COCO!!! LOL Big STINKY!!! :mrgreen: LOLLOL LOL

    I wonder if putting something else in front of Clover will help distract her…maybe even sitting her babies in thier carrier in front of her, to distract her? I mean, I have NO idea, because I know NOTHING about goats. But, it seems she kicks AFTER she’s done eating…so I thought something to keep her entertained in front of her? Good luck! AT least you are getting more milk! :sheepjump:

  38. Treasia says:

    Not sure if this will help you or not but it’s something my dad had to do with our horses. He would hobble them sometimes as well. place her stand in between to posts. The posts would be in the ground and secure. Attach both of Clover’s back legs to each fence post. Rope would be fine but make sure it is only long enough to reach each post and no longer. Instead of tying to the post though, have a snap on each end of both the ropes and snap to a clasp on the fence post. Tie the rope on Clover not on her lower legs but up higher around the top of each leg and make it to where she is being not only held outwards but somewhat down as well. Another words make sure she can’t move either out nor up.

    Hope this helps you out some.

  39. cgReno says:

    I so want a goat. They have the most wonderful faces. Thank you for sharing this experience with us townies!

  40. Susan says:

    Suzanne–hang in there girl. This is the first year milking a young goat, and think about it–what you’re doing to her can’t feel natural. She’s as new at this as your are. You might try tying the left leg down (at a low angle instead of up)and with no slack so she can’t kick the bucket over. At the same time tie the right let at an upward angle so it’s up and out of your way. Try your best to relax. It always seemed to me that the more upset I got, the worse the goat reacted. Don’t reward her with cookies–the feed should be enough. Tie her up a few minutes before you start to milk her and don’t feed her until you’re ready to start. Get lots more rocks, bigger ones and somewhat smaller ones. She should feel like she’s sorting through a button jar trying to find her feed. Make sure when you end the session that you end with you on the upswing–you decide when to end, after you’ve sucessfully gotten some milk, not after she just kicked the bucket over. Until you both get used to the process, it will probably be easier to use one hand on one side at a time, and keep one hand on the bucket. You might consider milking into a cup or something small that you can hold in one hand and she can’t kick over, step in or heaven forbid, poop in. Make sure you squeeze from the top down, not pull on the teat. This will keep her from getting sore. Before you loosen her, pet her, soothe her and let her go. Be consistent with your routine and she will start to understand–tie up, ear scratch, food and rocks, you doing unspeakable things until you and you alone decide you are done, petting, ear scratch and then untied and reunited with her babies. You’ll soon both be old hands at this. Keep up the good work, and keep blogging.
    Susan

  41. Treasure says:

    Thought of getting an older goat that has been milked before? Perhaps Clover could learn by example.

  42. Mariah says:

    Hey Suzanne, great job on the milking. You’re determined enough to hang in there and get Ms. Clover up on that stand every morning, things will get easier with time. Keep it up! (and not to be a pest, but did you happen to get my email?) Have a great weekend!

  43. wkf says:

    Ok. have you seen that cartoon movie Spirit. The one with the wild horse. Anyway they tie all for legs to individual posts. I have heard of farriers doing this with mules. Because Mules can stand on their ears and kick you. I would wonder(worry) about ligaments and stifle joints etc. There has to be something out there in google land.

  44. Joanne says:

    I think it’s a Coco/Clover conspiracy ;)

  45. wkf says:

    http://www.caprinesupply.com/shop/
    Ok I googled Caprine Supplies which scientific speak for GOAT! It gave me this right off. Hopefully I Got the one that will take you right to hobbles. If you read the description it is everything you are having trouble with.
    Good Luck.
    :flying:

  46. sunnid755 says:

    :chicken: good luck and keep us posted. Are you getting any eggs yet?

  47. Nita in South Carolina says:

    I’m enjoying this a lot. But the order of the universe must be maintained. The goat MUST. NOT. WIN.

    hee!

  48. Estella says:

    Keep trying, Suzanne. Surely she will give up soon.

  49. Brandy says:

    I’m learning so much here! *G* I’m sorry I don’t have any advice to share. But, I wish you the best of luck!

  50. Granny Sue says:

    Boy she is a kicker. Lots of good advice already. Slowing down the feed sounds like a good idea, and changing the placement of the hobble.

    We had a cow once who kicked like a mule or worse. She was a Guernsey with BIG horns and incredibly delicious, rich milk. But we had to tie both legs every single day. With a cow, another trick is to pull their tail back up over their back–they can’t kick for some reason when the tail is up like that. However, it meant two people every mmilking time.

    We finally got tired of fooling with her and took her to market. One lady there took one look at Maybelline (the cow) and said, ‘That one’s a kicker!’ She could tell by the look in that cow’s eyes. I loved the milk, but I was more than glad to see the back end of that cow heading out of the sale ring!

  51. anne says:

    Keep up the good spirit,Suzanne. All this milking trouble will just be a memory soon !!She will learn to trust you and cooperate. We hope sooner than later. :rockon:
    Anne

  52. Debbie in Memphis says:

    You did GREAT!! and you weren’t even wearing your chore boots :eek: Just think how much milk you’ll get with your boots on. :mrgreen:

  53. Laurie says:

    What a great photo story! I’m cheering for you from a distance.

  54. tea4too0 says:

    Bless your heart, darlin, bless your heart.

  55. Susan says:

    Sneak up on her when she is still sleeping and just maybe she’ll just think she is having a bad dream. :lol:

  56. catslady says:

    Then….she noted a disturbance in the force – I so love that picture :shocked:

  57. Shirley says:

    :clap: Yeah, what catslady said. :rotfl:

  58. Teresa H. says:

    You’ll get there! You’ve come along way from just the tablespoons! :thumbsup:

  59. Netherfieldmom says:

    I love that “Disturbance inthe Force” pic, too! Ha! There must be something to that goat hobble, tying the legs to each other and the tightness on the upper ligament. Don’t give in. Your stand still looks kind of low to the ground, not too comfy for you. “This too shall pass”! Someday you’ll have 20 to milk! :)

  60. Kathi says:

    Yay, Suzanne! Congratulations on the larger jar. Working your way to a gallon? :>

  61. beth says:

    I know I’m reading this two months late, but I’m playing catch up!

    I LOVE these stories. It truly makes my morning to hop on and read one or two. I have to limit myself, otherwise I’d be here all day till I finished it! (Kinda like a good book, eh?)And I’d never get my chicken coop done!

    Reading these adventures will help me as I head out into the world of chickens and (hopefully) ND goats!

  62. Jerry says:

    Hi, I didn’t see anything about all the forward/backward movement that goes along with the kicking and fighting of the rope. If you add two 2X6 pieces on edge to your stantion attached with 2 screws each, then the stantion will match the length of her neck more closely and reduce the movement and your frustration. Next, If you need your hobbles to be on the lower part, next to the joint of the upper part of her leg. Tie the two legs together about 4 or 5 inches apart. Tight on the tendon. They need to pinch the tendon some which prevents the leg from moving. She can still stand on her two front legs, balance on her head and stick both feet in the bucket. So then tie the hobble straight down to the floor. There you go. Milk away. After time she will understand and you will get your milk without frustration.

  63. Jordana says:

    I milk from above with my arm wrapped under the goat. I am also making a hobble for the upper part of the leg with old sheet, batting, and velcro. I am modeling the design on Fias Co Farms website that they bought. Good luck!

  64. Juli says:

    I saw the date so hopefully you have it all worked out by now. I came upon it looking for a goat hobble because you wrote our story here as well. I was using a horse lead and two dog leashes. She’s doing great now but I’m going to invets in a good velcro hobble for the future … just in case :)

  65. Anisa says:

    THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH! I know that you received this idea from someone else, but this idea saved my sanity!!!! I had a wonderful nubian that would be fine for the first 2/3 of her milking, and then pitch a royal fit. We even named her Spazzy, because she freaked out and ruined more milk than I could count. It took two of us to finish her off. Now, I just pull up her leg, and am done in record time. Once again, you are truly a lifesaver!!! :sun:

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